The good the bad and the ugly — KubeCon Europe 2019

Full disclaimer: I’ve been to two KubeCons; Copenhagen 2018, and now in Barcelona and thought I’d write a little gunslinger themed exposé of what I feel was good, what was bad and what surprised me this time around.

TLDR; KubeCon has matured into one of the biggest open source tech seminars and in doing so, I think it has lost some of the enthusiasm and excitement from previous years. It might be due to technologies that CNCF represents being widely adopted and inherently becoming “boring”. That’s not necessarily a bad thing at all. The venue though, it sucked.

The Good

Pretty much all the vendors from the CNCF ecosystem were present, plus all the heavy hitters, including the likes of Google, Amazon, MS, Oracle, VMWare, etc. The Vendor area, in general, was nicely relaxed and fitted the booths and curious neck-beards together without feeling too overcrowded. A lot of sponsors had upped their loot game with Legos, board games, thermos bottles and much much more compared to the odd t-shirt plus sticker stack. Techwise I feel we didn’t see so many fireworks as with last years managed Kubernetes offerings being announced by Amazon, Microsoft, and Digital Ocean. My takeaway for tech this year would be:

  • Terraform 0.12 is finally here.
  • CSI secrets driver for Azure Key Vault and Hashicorp Vault.
  • Push towards serverless is only ever increasing. Highly recommend checking out Jonas Bóners awesome talk.
  • Kubernetes development is moving from local development to “streaming” into live environments. Check out Christian Roggias talk about it here.
  • Dude, it’s incredible how much power there is at our fingertips. To drive that point home, [check out] Ricardo Rocha and Lukas Heindrich recreate a science experiment using 25k cores life on stage.

The Bad

Much could be said about the Fira Gran Via as a venue, but there’s not much positive about it IMHO — sorry. I do realize the participant count pretty much doubled from last year, so the need for a bigger venue is a given, but still, it could’ve been better.

Here are my pain points:

Firstly, the food sucked, full stop. Single packaged sandwiches with a tasteless salad on the side with even less tasting fruit mug made me long for the corner McDonalds. What happened to the buffet tables we had back in Copenhagen? Fresh and varied, tasteful and healthy — so a complete 180 from what we had this year. And even worse, last day the food ran out.

Second, the tech sessions were separated from the keynote and sponsor hall. So, to have coffee and maybe chat a little at the sponsor booths between sessions wasn’t actually viable if you wanted to be on time, and if not there was the high possibility of actually not fitting into the session room at all. I personally tried and failed to get into two separate sessions about KubeFlow. At least before, you could sit or stand at the back, but not this time.

Third, some of the sessions were held at a haphazard space with badly soundproofed walls, so everything and everybody going around the rooms definitely made it harder to listen and concentrate, especially if the person giving the talk spoke softly and/or with an accent.

So in short, logistics and food sucked.

But then, there was the after party, and that was awesome. Everything I was hoping it would be and more. It was held at Poble Espanyol which is absolutely beautiful. The food was great, the atmosphere even better and I definitely had fun.

The Ugly

As a whole, though, I enjoyed my time, learned new stuff, met new people and prospects. And even though the setting was a letdown, the community rocks! I really got the sense this time around that hey, these people are here to help and collaborate and you should too. So if you ever like giving back and joining any of the many projects under CNCF umbrella, people are usually very welcoming. Check out the KubeCon + CloudNativeCon 2019 Europe recordings for free from CNCFs Youtube channel.